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OJC Press Release ID: 2661

Monday, May 15, 2017

Keefer retires from OJC

Sue Keefer’s career has centered on change: change of location, change of venue and change in response to changing times. One constant has been her love of knowledge and open access to information.

After graduating high school in Dixon, Ill., Keefer attended Sauk Valley College and earned an Associate of Arts degree. She then transferred to the University of Missouri – Columbia to complete a Bachelor of Journalism. Later, she completed a Master’s in Library Science through Emporia State University.
Early in her career, Keefer focused mainly on journalism; working for a variety of daily and weekly newspapers in Illinois, Iowa and Colorado. Locally, she worked for both the Ag Journal and the Rocky Ford Daily Gazette. 

After a stint as a detention officer for the Grand County Sheriff’s Department, Keefer began her first library job in the Granby branch of the Grand County Library.  After returning to the Arkansas Valley, Keefer worked an adjunct journalism instructor and newspaper sponsor for OJC from 1989-1992. She substitute taught for Las Animas Schools and worked a variety of library positions throughout the Lower Arkansas Valley through 2009. In 2010, Keefer started full time with OJC as the director of library and learning resources. 

In her seven years, Keefer has seen many changes, most of them involving renovation or construction of new facilities. During her tenure a new fitness center was built; the cafeteria was renovated; the Conley Complex dorms were built; the nursing and allied health facilities were expanded; a greenhouse was constructed for the Agriculture program; and a new auxiliary gym is in progress to house the Wrestling program and other athletic practice needs. 

“What I will miss most after retirement are the people. I have met some very good friends here. And the library. I have libraries in my blood; I’ll never retire as a librarian.”

Of all of the changes to campus, the one that provided Keefer her greatest challenge and biggest accomplishment at OJC was the redesign of the Wheeler Library into the new Learning Commons. 

“It was exciting to be in on the planning of a whole new student environment—a place where students would feel comfortable and yet have their learning goals met. It was fun to visit other colleges that already had a learning commons concept in place, as well as visualize what would work best for OJC,” said Keefer.

“The process was more than a bit demanding and sometimes nerve-wracking. Construction wasn’t started on time; storage was an issue; supplies were delayed; even after we finally opened, all of the furniture wasn’t in place,” Keefer added.

In the long run, the process was worth the effort according to Keefer. “It has been more than gratifying every semester to see the students settle into the commons. Sometimes they just sit and chat; other times, they study by themselves or collaboratively. The availability and use of technology has increased; we now lend out iPads, laptops, and calculators as well as provide desk-top computers. We have had several presentations in the café area, such as the International Students’ Lunch and Learn Program, workshops, and even an open mic night,” said Keefer.

“Libraries are not going away. They will, as they always have, change with the times. The Learning Commons concept is based on the premise that it is changeable. What doesn’t change is that libraries will continue to exist to provide for the transfer of information: to help people find credible information, show them the best way to work with the information, and even to help them create their own information,” Keefer explained.

“The information highway is now so complex that we can’t expect people to navigate it on their own. That’s where librarians come in; we help people find their way to new knowledge, whether it be from books, periodicals, online databases, or providing a place for the free, uncensored, exchange of ideas,” Keefer added.

Upon her upcoming retirement, some things will not change: Keefer will be busy and she will still be focused on knowledge and open access to information and ideas.  Her future plans include working more on her photography, traveling with her husband, spending time in the mountains, reading, writing, learning agility with her corgi, enjoying her cats, working on her house and getting more involved in advocacy; particularly first amendment rights.

The staff and faculty of Otero Junior College wish Keefer well as she enters a new phase in her life.

Press Release Photo
Sue Keefer